Cheapa Campa / Apollo We rented a 6-berth motorhome from Apollo in Perth f...
Cheapa Campa Australia is part of the Apollo campervan family and as such their vehicles are very similar. Ahh, who are we kidding, their vehicles are identical! You even pick them up from the same depot location. Their vehicles are well designed and young(ish), they have a campervan or motorhome to suit just about any budget or travelling party size, and they have depots in lots of locations, so, yes, Cheapa Campa and Apollo are pretty much the same. The main difference? Age. When they are brand new, they are Apollo, when they are a few of years old they are moved to the Cheapa Campa brand.
So what’s the go here? Well on VERY close inspection you will notice a few little niceties supplied in the vehicle are different between the 2 brands. Apollo will include a personal kit such as towel, sheet, pillow etc where Cheapa Campa will not and there are few minor other inclusions in the insurance dept. But the main difference is the wear and tear. After 2-3 years of regular use, the campervans can become a little worn and they are no longer up to the Apollo brand standard so they are passed to Cheapa.
Cheapa Campa tell us you can have the same holiday - just a little Cheapa. They stress the bargain element of their large fleet size and selection. They are proud of being one of the largest privately owned motorhome rental companies in the world. They have grown a lot since inception in 1985 and the Apollo group have more vehicles on the road than any other company in Australia. They offer quality campers at a cheaper price and friendly service.
What does Cheapa Campa have to offer?
Well, hi-top roofs spring to mind. Every one of their vehicles is a hi-top meaning ability to stand upright in the back. This might not sound all that fantastic initially, but after a few hours of having to bend over in a vehicle, you will notice the luxury of being able to stand upright. The “budget” campervan companies bypass this expensive addition to vehicles, which helps keeps their prices down, abut also means you have to keep your head down. Cheapa Campa has spent the extra dollars on their vehicles and ability to stand upright in the vehicle is assured in all models.
Other items to note about Cheapa Campa is that all models come with a fridge, the ability to cook inside, are manual gear (stick shift) and they have a selection of diesel and petrol models. If heading to the outback then you will definitely want a diesel but if you are just sticking to coast roads, then it really won’t matter.
Whilst Cheapa Campa might be a little cheaper compared to their Apollo brothers, they are not necessarily the cheapest in the market. There is definitely cheaper campervan hire out there if you want to shop around. The Apollo family’s budget range is Hippie Campers, so if money (or lack of it) is your driving factor then Hippie is where you want to look, however, if you are looking to get some luxuries but are willing to cut out some trimmings then Cheapa Campa should be on your radar.
Cheapa Campa has a smaller fleet than Apollo as only some are passed down.The models are ...
- HiTop - 2/3 Berth - 2 adults 1 child
- 2 Berth - 2 adults but a bigger campervan than HiTop
- 4 Berth - 4 berth motorhome
- 6 Berth - 6 berth motorhome
- Cheapa 4wd Camper - Standard model 4x4
- Cheapa Trailfinder - more rugged 4x4
HiTop 2 Berth Campervan
This is a stock standard Hiace based hi-top campervan. There is nothing particularly special about this campervan that plenty of competitors don't have. Cutlery, crockery, pots pans, maps etc included, but paying extra per person for bedding. It has a fridge which not EVERY competitor will have so that is a bit of a bonus, but there is little else that sets this campervan apart from others. No child seats allowed. The upstairs single bed is rated for only 50kg hence you can only put a child up there. What makes this campervan attractive is simply that it is part of the Cheapa Campa brand and that it is likely to be only 3-5 years old. Many competitors will be older than this.
2 Berth Campervan
Built on the much bigger Ford Transit or similar VW model, this is the "luxury" camper for a couple. With an internal walk through access from front to back, shower, toilet and internal cooking, this camper is much better suited to long-haul travel. The toilet and shower mean you have much better options for free camping rather than caravan parks, and the large interior makes the campervan feel much more like a home. It has a larger fridge than the hitop, as well as a 3 burner stove. However, I am never that impressed with 3 burner stove tops as they are so jammed together you can't fit 3 pots on at a time anyway! But the toilet, shower and much larger space make this campervan a much more enjoyable experience for a 2 berth for those who can afford it.
4 Berth Motorhome
This is the first model you want to go to if you are travelling as a family rather than a couple. A smaller double bed on the ground level and a larger one above the driver cabin is how the bed system plays out but the downstairs bed is table and chairs during the day. This is a pass-down of the Apollo Euro Camper and is a very liveable motorhome. Toilet and shower mean you are less reliant on caravan parks for facilities and I think there is plenty of room in there for 4 peeps. You can expect it to be around 3-5 years old, hence older and therefore cheaper than the Apollo version so you can also expect a little bit of wear and tear. Don't expect this motorhome (or any from Cheapa Campa) to be absolutely perfect inside. 3 years of rentals can take its toll on interiors so if you approach it knowing that you are not in a 5-star hotel room, then you will probably have reality better match your expectations.
6 Berth Motorhome
My last hire of the Cheapa Campa 6 berth was quite pleasant. Whilst there was wear and tear you would come to expect of a 3 year old motorhome overall it was a great trip. The layout of the 6 berth is pretty common - a permanent bed above the driver and 2 dining stations that become beds at night. As with all motorhomes this size, there's a toilet, shower, air-con, microwave, electric water pump, and 3 burner gas stove. I took out the extras package so there was also sheets, pillows, camp chairs, a table and all the things you could want. There were some leaks in the window when it rained, but that was kind of dependent on the angle the motorhome was parked at and what side the water ran off. To give some direct examples of the kind of wear and tear you could expect, the rear cushions were a bit tatty, there was plenty of white gaffer tape on the rear of the camper covering up where other people had put minor dings in it reversing, it pulled a little to the left when driving and one drawer didn't latch properly and would come open on corners. The awning support arm had trouble staying fully extended but it stayed up in general and it was still useable and used a lot. The motorhome is easy to drive, was very clean on pick . It was the cheapest 4 or 6 berth motorhome out of Cairns on the dates I wanted - yes even some 4 berths were costing more - so it was a no brainer and was well worth the money. Recommended. (see video for some sneaky inside pictures)
Cheapa 4wd Camper - Standard Model 4x4
The Cheapa 4WD Camper is perfect for off-road adventurers on a budget. It is built on the 'unbreakable' Toyota Hilux ute with a "tortoise shell" home on the back. You can't walk through from driver cabin to the back, but you can't do that in any 4wd campervan. The pre-built 'drop-on' shell living area allows for a more space that converting a 4wd directly will achieve, so when it comes to 4x4 comfy living, this model is probably better. The downsize of this design is weight. This model is going to be back-heavy and the Hilux, whilst being a great workhorse 4x4 vehicle is not specifically built to do long haul 4wd, more for getting tradesmen into quarry like work sites. So when it comes to serious off-roading, the Trailfinder model is probably better. However, if you are just wanting to head to outback Australia and be confident that you will not get stuck on any of the dirt and sand roads, this model will be fine and will be slightly cosier at the same time.
Cheapa Trailfinder - More Rugged 4x4
If you are looking at really going on ANY road in Australia (within the Terms and Conditions of Cheapa Campa), then this model is for you. Built on the most reliable vehicle in the country, the Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier, this campervan will get you where you want to go. This is the model of car that locals buy who live in the harshest parts of the country. I love this vehicle. I can live in one. I did already actually - for a year! Not luxurious, not sleek, not quiet but a great lot of fun. This is an ADVENTURE vehicle. Get this and get lost! It has all the things you need to live with like gas burner, cutlery, crockery, fridge, water tank, bench space and comfy place to sleep but nothing you don't need and no fluff. The only thing missing is not part of the fixed attachments but what Cheapa Campa does not seem to supply that others often do - recovery equipment. Whilst this campervan can go almost anywhere, it can still get stuck, or is often the case, you come across someone ELSE who is stuck and needs some help. I would like to see some basics like a shovel, a snatch strap with D-shackles and a distress beacon for peace of mind. That notwithstanding, this is a great campervan for a true Australian outback or bush adventure and highly recommended.
One word of advice, despite having a multitude of vehicles in their fleet, Cheapa Campa does book out often. At peak times it books out extremely early, so if you think this brand of campervans might be for you, then you are advised to book as early as you can. However, there are plenty of other campervan companies to choose from if you can’t get a Cheapa Campa.